New Delhi: As Maldives prepares for the presidential elections in September, India on Tuesday said it is looking forward to “free, fair, credible and inclusive" polls there and that it was willing to assist Male in this process.

This was conveyed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom during a meeting held in New Delhi.

Gayoom is currently on a visit here till 6 June.

The prime minister said India and Maldives have enjoyed a special and close relationship and it was important that the two countries work together to ensure peace and security in Maldives and the region.

“He also said India is looking forward to free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in Maldives and would be willing to assist in this process," official sources said.

Gayoom conveyed his appreciation for India’s assistance for development of Maldives over a long period of time. The two leaders discussed issues relating to the current situation in Maldives and India-Maldives bilateral relations.

“He said that he looked forward to India’s continued assistance. During the discussions, there was general agreement on the need to maintain peace and security in Maldives," the sources said.

Gayoom, who had to step down after three decades of his one-party rule, said democracy should take firm roots in Maldives and there should be understanding amongst all political parties in this regard. Gayoom is also scheduled to meet external affairs minister Salman Khurshid and other senior officials.

Sources said his visit to Delhi is part of India’s outreach to all sections of Maldivian polity. Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed had visited India twice while President Mohamed Waheed was in India in May last year.

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